Air quality up

May 19th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stats NZ and the Ministry for the released a report on Friday showing air quality has improved in New Zealand. You would have thought that the so called environmental party, the Greens, would have quickly rushed out a press release welcoming this. But it seems they were too busy.

Stats NZ says:

Air quality in New Zealand continues to improve, according to a new report released today by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand, showing lower levels of airborne particles that are associated with health problems.

The 2014 Air domain report focuses on three national air quality indicators – PM10 particulates, (particulate matter 10 micrometres or less in diameter), health impacts from PM10, and vehicle emissions.

“The report not only covers the state of the environment but also what has contributed to the state being the way it is and how the state impacts on New Zealand and New Zealanders,” Secretary for the Environment Paul Reynolds said.

The indicators are showing the state of air quality is improving, and the measurable pressures and impacts reducing.

At a national level, annual PM10 concentrations declined between 2006 and 2012. A number of locations breached PM10health guidelines, particularly in winter due to wood and coal burners.

A range of other pollutants are covered in the report, such as carbon monoxide, lead, sulphur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. These mostly met short- and long-term health guidelines, though occasional breaches of guidelines occurred at some sites close to roads or major industry.

The improvement in the state of air quality is reflected by declines in the key pressures on PM10 concentrations. The number of homes using wood and coal has declined since 1996, and on-road transport emissions have declined since 2001 even though vehicle usage has increased. The key pollutants from vehicles have each decreased between 25 and 50 percent brought about by improvements in New Zealand’s vehicle fleet and cleaner fuels.

With the state of New Zealand’s air quality improving, associated health impacts from exposure to PM10 have also declined from 2006 to 2012.

Some data from the report:

  • PM10 concentration down from 16.9 in 2008 to 15.6 in 2012.
  • Our average concentration is the 7th lowest in the OECD
  • Every city measured, except Tauranga is lower in 2012 than 2008
  • Biggest drops are Lower Hutt with 26% and Dunedin with 24%. Also Penrose 18% down.

We take lean air for granted. But you only have to travel overseas to see how fortunate we are.

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28 Responses to “Air quality up”

  1. Kea (12,777 comments) says:

    NZ is a lightly populated coastal nation. There has never been any sort of major air quality problem. There is however a major health problem with cold damp houses because the greenies have banned affordable heating.

    We have heaps of coal and we should be burning it to keep us toasty and warm :)

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  2. martinh (1,257 comments) says:

    I read last week that aucklands has the worst ever….
    Im starting to fell theres some poor reporting going on here.
    To the readers of Kiwiblog if you feel you are not being mislead here read this
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11252572

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  3. martinh (1,257 comments) says:

    read that article Kea, seems you are the sort of complacent person they talk of.
    What a ridiculous statement
    “These mostly met short- and long-term health guidelines, though occasional breaches of guidelines occurred at some sites close to roads”

    How far away from roads do you have to be to not be close to roads? What an absolute bull shit, below average student govt worker yes i will write what im told statement.
    Come on DPF i expect better or else i will go elsewhere as i dont want to read statements that sound like they are from partial politicians

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  4. Kea (12,777 comments) says:

    martinh, you are a sucker. What is deemed acceptable air quality is an arbitrary figure pulled out of some committees arse. Usually there are other agendas involved that have nothing to do with public health.

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  5. gump (1,647 comments) says:

    @martinh

    “I read last week that aucklands has the worst ever….”

    ————————-

    Auckland has air quality problems around major arterial traffic routes and the levels of exhaust products such as benzine and nitrogen dioxide often exceed the WHO guidelines during periods of peak traffic flow.

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  6. martinh (1,257 comments) says:

    Kea
    I dont mind being called a sucker but what is your expert figure then as i definitely smell a lot more smog in Auckland than i ever use too?

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  7. wreck1080 (3,905 comments) says:

    Are you saying tauranga increased? I could find no reference to this.

    [DPF: Not in any stories no. But I went to the source data files, as I normally do. They're on Stats website]

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  8. holysheet (385 comments) says:

    Too bloody right the greens are too busy. Since when was this sorry lot of watermelons interested in anything to actually help the environment that would not cost the taxpayer shitloads of dollars. They are far too busy pushing their commie agenda to worry about mundane things like air quality

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  9. gump (1,647 comments) says:

    @Kea

    “We have heaps of coal and we should be burning it to keep us toasty and warm:

    ——————–

    No we shouldn’t. Burning coal in home burners is inefficient and causes massive problems with local air quality.

    Coal is best used to fuel efficient electrical generation plants in rural areas, so that the resulting power can be used to heat homes in cities via electrical means.

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  10. martinh (1,257 comments) says:

    Gump
    Thats downtown CBD, near where i work, it aint a motorway here

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  11. Kea (12,777 comments) says:

    “No we shouldn’t. Burning coal in home burners is inefficient and causes massive problems with local air quality.

    Coal is best used to power efficient electrical generation plants in rural areas, so that the resulting power can be used to heat homes in cities via electrical means.

    1. Yes we should. It causes few problems, though the washing can get a bit smelly. I like the smell of burning coal personally.

    2. Yes we should put a massive coal power station on the West Coast.

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  12. Kea (12,777 comments) says:

    martinh, sure it can get smelly and it is probably not optimal for health. However I suggest the health effects are very minimal, unlike the effects of cold damp houses.

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  13. gump (1,647 comments) says:

    @matinh

    “Thats downtown CBD, near where i work, it aint a motorway here”

    —————————–

    Motorways aren’t the only problem. The problem is the traffic arterials that service areas like the CBD..

    If you want to improve the air quality in your area, you will need to replace the cars with cleaner technology or reduce their access to the CBD.

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  14. gump (1,647 comments) says:

    @Kea

    “1. Yes we should. It causes few problems, though the washing can get a bit smelly. I like the smell of burning coal personally.”

    ————————

    I’m sorry but there’s no point in me engaging with this level of stupidity. I have better things to do.

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  15. martinh (1,257 comments) says:

    KEa
    Probably but i just dont like the smell, prefer the good old days of when the city didnt have that stench wafting through it

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  16. martinh (1,257 comments) says:

    Gump.
    I suspect the road access to the port would be one of those. It is surrounded by high building now and lots more trucks.
    I can only see that getting worse

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  17. Kea (12,777 comments) says:

    martinh, go visit Jakarta and tell us what you think ;)

    gimp thinks I’m stupid for liking the smell of burning coal :)

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  18. RightNow (6,994 comments) says:

    gump: “If you want to improve the air quality in your area, you will need to replace the cars with cleaner technology or reduce their access to the CBD.”

    Or perhaps look at the real culprits – buses (and other diesel vehicles), especially in downtown Auckland where martinh is complaining about, from the article he linked to:

    On the other hand, the study found concentrations of carbon monoxide from petrol cars were “far below any relevant standards or guidelines”.

    Dr Longley, Niwa’s air quality science leader, said that was unsurprising, given the prevalence of carbon-filtering catalytic converters in cars.

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  19. martinh (1,257 comments) says:

    Kea
    It might be ok for you but for me its not ok because we a better than Jakata.

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  20. I Say Look Here (57 comments) says:

    For the record, it appears that Tauranga’s figure has increased – by a whole 0.2 micrograms per cubic metre, from 13.2 to 13.4, since 2008. A 1.5% increase. But has decreased, by 0.3, since 2011. Well done to the other cities that are coming down to our level.

    Aren’t stats fun.

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  21. Simon (719 comments) says:

    “Our average concentration is the 7th lowest in the OECD”

    Time to ditch any wider reference to OECD. Nearly half of OECD countries have failed or have sizeable portions of their population living in abject poverty.

    Might as well say average concentration is the 7th lowest in the Warsaw Pact countries.

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  22. Kea (12,777 comments) says:

    Kea
    It might be ok for you but for me its not ok because we a better than Jakata.

    Come off it Jakarta is awesome ! :)

    Beats dreary old Auckland any day. 12 million people packed on a humid stinking flood plain. Traffic that makes Bangkok look like a Sunday arvo in Gore.

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  23. UrbanNeocolonialist (288 comments) says:

    Car emissions are a non-issue. More stringent emissions technology stopped improving air quality in any real sense 10-15 years ago, and in fact are now (stupidly) preventing more efficient lean-burn cars from being produced. Effectively we are trading a miniscule reduction in NOx + CO production against cars that cost an extra $1-2k and that have 5-10% higher fuel consumption/CO2 emissions than they should have. (This is a field I have worked in professionally). It is another example of Green irrationality but in this case in cahoots with Big Car companies that are happy with the effective barrier-to-entry and higher selling prices that it creates.

    Diesel particulates are the one vehicle emission that is worth regulating and filtering out carefully, though I would judge status quo as a reasonable compromise.

    Fireplaces are problematic in cities, when there is no wind. But a blanket everywhere ban is stupid as they present such a cheap form of power that takes pressure off of our grid. This is Greens killing Grannys with the cheaper heating denied to the poor demonstrably leading to far more cold weather deaths than the supposed increase in air quality does (this is well known to health analysts) eg about 25000 per year in the UK as a result of cold weather (would be maybe 1000/year in NZ. The rational solution would be to restrict use based on wind and population density. No regulation in rural areas, minimal regulation in small towns, heavier regulation in bigger towns and cities. But city bound regulators and bureaucrats don’t like to make exceptions.

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  24. wreck1080 (3,905 comments) says:

    Thanks dpf,I Say Look Here .

    I had a quick look through the excel spreadsheet cited by the report but it didn’t have anything.

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  25. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    According to the Greens in 2011, Auckland’s air is positively lethal…

    “The WHO survey shows Auckland has New Zealand’s worst air pollution, which is at levels nearly double that of Sydney. “More people in Auckland are dying from air pollution than in road crashes,” said Green Party transport spokesperson Gareth Hughes.”

    https://www.greens.org.nz/press-releases/who-survey-shows-akl-needs-smart-green-transport

    Of course it turns out that WHO had managed to issue corrupt statistics, and Auckland’s air quality is amongst the best in the world. That didn’t stop Hughes calling for radical action to improve it. If I recall correctly, the largest component of Auckland air pollution was actually salt spray. So the most efficient way to improve Auckland’s air quality would be to cover the ocean. Maybe reclaim everything within a kilometre of the existing shoreline, then fence off the reclaimed land to stop people getting too close to the source of the pollution.

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  26. prosper (162 comments) says:

    We are a country the size of UK and or Japan with 4 million people. It’s a windy country with a lot of sunshine and mild winters compared to the aforementioned countries . Thus we use less fuel for heating. Any problems we have with air pollution is due to people looking for a non existent problem to solve probably so they can extract tax dollars to conduct further research to control you. It’s logical even if you break wind the smell is in Chile before you can say green party.

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  27. gravedodger (1,566 comments) says:

    The NZ Green Party was not too busy they have moved on from the environment protection meme that sustained their initial foray.

    They now have at their center front and core a belief: they know best what we need.

    Reduce industry where it makes money and replace it with nice sounding things that have gone broke everywhere else.

    Keep promoting the same old same old and expect a different outcome.

    Keep everyone informed what to eat, what to wear, how to travel, where to live and where to access their superior medical benefits systems.

    Oh and as an addition make doubly certain any tinkering with representation and pseudo democracy moves only to advance their philosophy, it is the only way you know, they have known like for ever, youknow.

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  28. wiseowl (887 comments) says:

    It is most unfortunate that National have been sucked in by the whole argument surrounding pm10 and air quality from logfires.

    This whole area needs to be exposed as it comes direct from agenda 21 and the United Nations trying and succeeding again to control our lives .
    The worst part is the misleading information that has been used to convince councils that in an area, say,Nelson there are 30 deaths attributable to emmissions from woodburners per annum.Councilllors have been nodding away how terrible , lets do away with old logfires and force everyone into buying more efficient models.It’s a con. It is appalling and I am so disappointed that no National MP can see through this UN driven drivel.
    Prosper is right.
    We end up with a few nights a year where smoke hangs around for a while the next day.
    One must think that all the sick people and asthmatics go outside to breathe in pm10 to produce the results that are used to bash councillors over the head by bureaucrats and greens that want to impose more and more regulations on us.
    There should be an enquiry into claims made about pm10.

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